Introducing Kids to Herbs

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It’s officially spring!  The crazy Oklahoma weather has finally leveled out and we can once again see the “green country” we know and love.  Spring also means fresh beautiful herbs and vegetables starting to pop out of our gardens.  If you’re like me you got excited back in March and planted a few items that eventually were murdered by the surprise frost that occurred last month.  Now that we can finally bet on better weather, I’ve had the fever to do some planting.
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I love to play with my kids in the dirt.  Children love the magical process of working the soil, planting the awkward little seeds or plants and then watching day by day as the sprouting and growing occur.  My husband has the green thumb in the family so I leave all the planning, maintenance and harvesting side to him.  Especially being eight months pregnant, I just want to play in the dirt and then enjoy the benefits of his skills and knowledge later in the kitchen.
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My favorite way to start getting the kids excited about spring/summer cooking is to plant and taste herbs.  In our “busy kitchen” it’s all about the smell, taste and touch experience when it comes to food.  Herbs are an easy and inexpensive way to incorporate flavor into you family meals.   Children love the idea of picking something with their own hands to put into their food.
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You can sprout fresh herbs from seeds in the house during late winter or purchase the prepared pot version at you local garden store.  Either way you go the kids will learn a lot about the planting process and you will enjoy these beauties in your kitchen and recipes.
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Several weeks ago I introduced you to the Mediterrasian Diet idea and shared a few on my favorite recipes from that style of cooking.  Check out one of my favorite sites www.mediterrasian.com This week I wanted to continue with the same flavor profiles and incorporate a few easy and kid-friendly ways to highlight herbs.  These two recipes are very hands on for kids and combine the best of Mediterrasian flavors with the convenience of simple and accessible herbs you can grow at home or find in most any grocery store.
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Happy spring everyone, I hope you enjoy the next beautiful weeks of weather and plant something fun and nutritious for you and your family to enjoy this summer.

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Mediterranean Veggie Boats
Yield 8-12 Pieces
Boats:
4-6 Small Bell Peppers (Red, Orange or Yellow)
1 Small Pkg of Baby Carrots
1 Pkg of Baby Cucumbers cut lengthwise, diagonal or into circles
1 Pkg of Celery Hearts cut into celery sticks
1 Pkg of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes halved or quartered
1 Small Zucchini cut into matchstick sizes
1 Small Yellow Squash cut into matchstick sizes

Dip:
1 Cup of Greek Yogurt
1 Cup of Sour Cream
1Pkg of Ranch Seasoning
1/2 Cup of Milk or Plain Kefir
2-3 Spring of Assorted Fresh Herbs Your Choice Chopped Fine
(You don’t have to use all the suggestions, pick your favorite.)
Oregano
Parsley
Basil
Thyme
Rosemary
Dill or
Mint
Salt and Pepper To Taste

Combine dip ingredients in medium bowl and stir to combine.

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I love FAGE Greek yogurt.  It’s the perfect yogurt for eating, cooking, baking and for dips.

DSC_8523I like using sour cream instead of mayo for texture and good vs bad fat reasons.

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Hidden Valley is the best in my opinion :)

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You can literally use any herb or combination of herbs that you want.  I have chosen flat leaf or Italian style parsley, mint, thyme (lemon), oregano, rosemary and fresh dill.

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I love little hands in my kitchen.

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Chop the herbs and add to your dip.

DSC_8539You can also use any type of veggies you like to fill or dip into the herb boats.  I have baby cucumbers, carrots and sugar snap peas because those are my kids favorite.

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You can cut the little cucumbers on the angle or into discs.

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For the boats you can use regular size peppers but I found these babies in a package and thought they would be cute.

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Halve bell peppers lengthwise and scoop out seeds and white pith.

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Spoon herb ranch dip into peppers and create dipping boats for assorted veggies.

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Serve as a snack or with lunch.
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**If you don’t have time use your favorite pre-made ranch dressing or dip.  Also if you have doubts that your kids will like this, give it a try.  If they are involved with the making of the recipe they are much more likely to eat it.  We served this recipe to over 300 elementary school children last spring in a test run and 80% of them loved it and wanted more.  Give it a try at your house.

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